Ralf Rangnick — Coaching Philosophy

Gaurav Mukherjee
4 min readMay 1, 2022


Jurgen Klopp and Germany’s crop of top coaches have been influenced by Ralf Rangnick, who has become the godfather of modern football.

“ For other coaches it was an inspiration and they are the ones that embraced change, who embraced the modern way of football. who rules modern football today? that’s why we’re talking about him now.”


Ralf Rangnick started his coaching career in early 1980s and helped many third and fourth tire clubs secure a place in Germany’s top flight league, Bundesliga. He guided Schalke to the Champions League semi-final and German Cup glory.

After taking a break from coaching, he became the Global Sports Director of the Red Bull group and more recently Managing Director Sports and Communication of FC Lokomotiv Moscow. Rangnick was linked with many top clubs such as Chelsea, AC Milan and the German national team before taking the job of Interim manager of Manchester United. His renowned philosophy was admired by many top european clubs and as of today he has been appointed as head coach of Austria’s national team and will continue his consultancy role for Manchester United from next season.

Ralf Rangnick will combine the job of Austria’s national team head coach with his consultancy role at Old Trafford starting from next season.

Coaching Philosophy and Tactics

In 1998, Rangnick was invited onto TV to explain his ideas and tactics to a wider audience. What happened next changed the direction of German football and the modern game.

Conducting the interview was Michael Steinbrecher, a presenter on the late-night ZDF sportstudio, which first aired in 1963 to coincide with the opening day of the inaugural Bundesliga season.

Rangnick talks about how he wants to play in an extremely pronounced pressing style. He wants his team to try to always attack and outnumber the opposing ball-owner with at least one player, and it’s simply important that the player also have a basic structure where they know that every player really has his back covered. Another myth that existed in Germany back then was the back four plays without a libero. Rangnick told his team don’t play without a libero, it depends on the situation which has played out. The two central defenders generate this libero depending on the situation, depending on which side the opponent attack comes from.

When the opponent has the ball, Rangnick wants his players to lure the opponent out a bit. That means they don’t want to give everything away from the start. Suppose the opposition defender has the ball, then he wants the near-the ball striker to move towards the ball. At the same time one of the midfielder also pushes towards the ball-owner. In other words, his team wants to create a situation where two players are trying to catch the ball-owner and attack .

Two players (11 and 8) ready to press the defender (4) and create a 2v1 situation.

Rangnick wants another midfielder to push over towards the ball side and has a task to create a triangle over there to close the passing option for the opponents ball-onwer.

The attacking midfielder (10) pushes towards the ball side and creates a triangle over there closing the passing option for the opposition ball-owner.

Rangnick wants to press his opponents high with a ball oriented approach. He wants to generate a numerical advantage near the ball and try to take time and space from the opponents on the ball.

In this situation the central defender (4) becomes the Libero. The defensive midfielder (6) is descirbed as “vaccum cleaner or windshield wiper” by Rangnick because of the time and space he has in the central midfield area.

After winning back the possession, the transition phase leads to a quick counter attack where the players will play vertical passess, allowing players to get quickly towards the goal.

Quick counter attack during the transition phase.


Ralf Rangnick has inspired a lot of german coaches including Jurgen Klopp.

Ralf Rangnick is clear among top German coaches regarding the pressing game. Hence, he has been called “The Godfather of Gegenpressing” or “The Professor”. Rangnick has inspired a lot of modern coaches including Jurgen klopp who’s current Liverpool side are one of the best examples of how Rangnick wants the game to be played.

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Gaurav Mukherjee

Sports Management student who has a passion for football and tactics.